The Florida Supreme Court has determined that public records are all materials made or received by an agency in connection with official business which are used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge. They are not limited to traditional written documents. Tapes, photographs, films and sound recordings are also considered public records subject to inspection unless a statutory exemption exists.
Florida Statutes 119.07 –
(1)(a) Every person who has custody of a public record shall permit the record to be inspected and copied by any person desiring to do so, at any reasonable time, under reasonable conditions, and under supervision by the custodian of the public records.
Nothing in the public records law requires that a request for public records be in writing or in person, although individuals may wish to make their request in writing to ensure they have an accurate record of what they requested. Unless otherwise exempted, a custodian of public records must honor a request for records, whether it is made in person, over the telephone, or in writing, provided the required fees are paid. In addition, nothing in the law requires the requestor to disclose the reason for the request.
In the State of Florida public records access is not only law under chapter 119.07 Florida Statutes, it is also a civil right protected by Article 1 Section 24 of the Florida Constitution. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is quoted as saying...
"In Florida, transparency is not up to the whim or grace of public officials. Instead, it is an enforceable right."
Since there is no such thing as PUBLIC RECORDS POLICE, the enforcement of our right falls on us, the public. If our right to access non exempt public records is denied it is our responsibility to vindicate that right by the means provided to us under 119.07 Florida Statutes. Whether it be through ignorance or outright hostility far to many public officials are more than happy to violate the law and deny our right of access. Sadly this ignorance or hostility to public records access often results in costly litigation that is passed on to the tax payer.